This year’s midterm elections showed more than ever how much clout large corporations and wealthy individuals have in the democratic process.
In my home state of New Hampshire, Senator Jeanne Shaheen defeated former Mass. Senator Scott Brown to retain the seat she gained six years ago — but only by the skin of her teeth. The landscape of American politics has changed so much — in terms of both ideology and spheres of influence — that Brown nearly pulled off a win in a state to which he has few ties besides a new home and some family burial grounds.
The voting public is now polarized enough to vote not on issues, and not even on personality, but solely on partisan identity. Moreover, the sphere of influence has shifted from the voter to the corporation. New Hampshire — a small state, known mostly for its outsize influence in Presidential politics — came in seventh in OpenSecrets.org’s comprehesnive ranking of outside spending in every congressional race this year.
This isn’t particularly shocking; a Senate seat is a Senate seat, and New Hampshire’s have long been contested, making it a target for Republicans. But the fact that independent expenditures nearly overcame New Hampshire conservatives’ propensity to eschew Massachusetts Republicans like Brown makes it so much more than “speech,” as the Supreme Court would have us believe. The results this year underscore this point more than ever; what is to be done remains to be seen, and is the subject of a different piece.
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Categories: From the Editor